Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion…”
The First Amendment assumes that the proper sphere of government is policies, not values. And so it protects the right of political participation and prohibits a state church that would define values.
The government had the right to decide to go to war with France. It did not have a right to decide what you should believe. Politics extended into the realm of policies, not beliefs.
But as religious belief declined, politics replaced it as the repository of moral and ethical values. This transformation began on the left. The left was the least religious in the traditional sense. And the most likely to build up an ideology of secular values with which to displace traditional religious values.
The last century witnessed an extensive effort to scrub religious values out of government. But this effort was matched by an equally comprehensive project to replace them with the left’s own values. Unlike the wall between church and state, there were few legal safeguards against writing values into legislation if they were irreligious ones. The church was deemed to be the true threat. Not the state.
But the end result looks very much like an establishment of religion. Even in the church sense.
The values written into the legislation reflect those of certain churches, but not others. When nuns are forced to pay for birth control and Christian photographers with traditional beliefs are compelled to participate in gay weddings, the government is picking religious establishment “winners and losers”.
The winners are roughly on the religious left and the losers on the religious right.
Unitarians win, Baptists lose. Quakers win, Mormons lose. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) triumphs over the Presbyterian Church in America. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America prevails over the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. It’s hard not to see this as an establishment of religion.
This isn’t about doctrinal battles or gay marriage. It’s about the culture war fallout from the left’s power to write its values into law and into the codes of conduct that hold sway in in private organizations.
We take the truth of our values on faith. They are a matter of subjective conviction, not objective fact. To those who believe in them, they appear to be the absolute truths of the enlightened. But they cannot be proven to be true in any meaningful way. You either believe in them. Or you don’t.
Google fired James Damore for questioning a tenet of its beliefs. That is in theory illegal. The search engine monopoly created forums in which employees were meant to discuss these very issues. Damore was not fired for expressing his views at work, but for politely expressing the “incorrect” view.
California law protects employees fired for both religious and political views. But the “hostile workplace” pretext that led to Damore’s firing is an example of how the left’s values are the basis of legislation. Much as “public accommodation” civil rights protect the demand to participate rather than the right of religious dissent, the protection of minority participation is at the heart of the left’s bid for equality. But this has never truly been a matter of law, but of values. The law mandates the elimination of obstacles. It does not demand that values winners and losers be chosen to achieve equality. That is a leftist bias.
The left defends imposing its values by force through outrage at selective “suffering” on the one hand and abstractions about the empowerment of participatory equality on the other. Ultimately though it cannot defend its values without reference to those values. That is typical of belief systems.
The left’s secular religion functions as a theocracy. It promises salvation through Socialism, warns that human sin will destroy the world through global warming and is engaged in a perpetual struggle against those who do not share its values. It wages war on religious freedom because it is a kind of religion.
There can be no political freedom where there is no religious freedom. Religion is more encompassing than politics can ever be. Politics addresses which policy best accomplishes a particular goal. Religion tackles the question of what the goal should be. If you don’t have the freedom to determine your own goals, then your ability to choose policies is as meaningless as some European elections.
Leftist systems seek to create “democratic” arenas in which we are free to disagree on policies, but not goals. They do this by writing values into the system so that only one sort of goal is deemed acceptable.
Deviations from the goal are not acceptable. Questioning the goal is heresy. And leads to sanctions.
Trump Derangement Syndrome, Google’s firing of James Damore and the violent attacks on conservative speakers are all examples of what happens when the goals are blasphemously challenged.
Politics is far more likely to turn violent over values rather than policy. That is why the Founders wanted politics to be confined to policy rather than values. We can rationally debate policy, but we can’t debate values. We can argue over what we feel to be true, but the revelations of our deepest selves cannot be proven. And when they are challenged, anger, hostility and even violence quickly follow.
The First Amendment helped build a system where our representatives debated what we should do, rather than what we should think. Politicians were meant to get things done, not argue dogma. The culture war we are in is less about what we should do than what we should think. The violent confrontations and clashes are not really about campus safe spaces or Confederate memorials, but how we should see ourselves. The confrontations are meant to be both polarizing and clarifying.
They’re a religious war. The left has established its religion. And violence against heretics swiftly follows.
America is in the midst of an ugly conflict because our political system was hijacked by the Church of the Left. The legislative and judicial hijacking of our system has turned our politics into a culture war. To end the conflict we must return to a true understanding of the First Amendment. It is not the role of government to tell us what to think or what to believe. And any government that embarks on such a totalitarian enterprise will tear apart our society and destroy our way of life.
As the left has been doing.
Restoring the Constitution and ending the violence will require unwriting the left’s values from our laws.
Linda Sarsour (right). Photo: Screenshot.
Anti-Defamation League National Director CEO Jonathan Greenblatt slammed The New School on Monday over the Manhattan-based institution’s upcoming hosting of a panel discussion on antisemitism that will feature several prominent anti-Israel activists.
Participants in the Nov. 28 event — titled “Antisemitism and the Struggle for Justice” — will include Women’s March co-chair Linda Sarsour and Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) Executive Director Rebecca Vilkomerson.
“Having Linda Sarsour & head of JVP leading a panel on #antisemitism is like Oscar Meyer leading a panel on vegetarianism,” Greenblatt tweeted on Monday. “These panelists know the issue, but unfortunately, from perspective of fomenting it rather than fighting it.”
Mexico’s Sec. of Foreign Affairs, Luis Videgaray Caso, thanked the IDF team for their work to help the people of Mexico during the earthquakes. (IDF Spokesperson)
Mexico has reportedly announced that it will change its voting strategy at the United Nations and other international bodies by stopping to vote in favor of the Palestinians.
According to Yedioth Ahronoth, Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Figari contacted Israeli Ambassador to Mexico Yoni Pelad and told him of the shift in strategy for all upcoming voting procedures related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Perpetuating the romance of the Bolshevik regime, whose ‘good intentions’ cannot mask the horrors imposed in its name
This was written not in the Soviet Union or one of its satellites, but in New York in 1947 by Robert Warshow in Commentary magazine about the American culture of the previous decade. While slightly hyperbolic (the Southern Agrarians, the American Scholar, etc.?) it faithfully describes American Jewish culture of the time, emphatically including its Yiddish branch. At the extreme of this movement were people like Julius Rosenberg, George Koval, and Mark Zborowski, who actively spied for the Soviet Union. At the same time, editors of Communist publications, Hollywood and union activists, party writers and institutional leaders were all directed by Moscow and were joined by rank-and-file members in promoting the virtues of Stalinism over the evils of American constitutional democracy.
How the grandparents of today’s Christian victims of ISIS were also butchered by Muslims.
Editor’s Note: The following review was written by Raymond Ibrahim, a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. The book reviewed is Year of the Sword: The Assyrian Christian Genocide, a History (published by the Oxford University Press, 2016), by Joseph Yacoub, an Honorary Professor of Political Science at Catholic University of Lyon. A significantly shorter version of this review first appeared in the Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2017.
This important contribution to genocide studies documents how the world’s oldest Christian communities—variously referred to as Chaldeans, Syriacs, and Arameans, but best known as Assyrians—were, along with the Armenians, “victims of the [Ottoman] plan for exterminating Christianity, root and branch,” to quote Lord Bryce, circa. 1920. In fact, as half of the Assyrian population was massacred—going from 600,000 to 300,000 in 1915-18—relative to their numbers, no other Christian group, including the Armenians, suffered as much under the Ottomans.
Three non-Jewish men and one non-Jewish woman went up to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, on Thursday morning, and took part in a ceremony in which they received upon themselves the responsibility of adhering to the seven Noahide laws and were officially accepted by a rabbinic tribunal.
The seven Noahides went up to the Temple Mount accompanied by a group of rabbis. One rabbi explained to them the significance of the place and how the Temple was intended as a House of Prayer for all Nations, that benefits the entire world. The rabbis then discussed the laws pertinent to a non-Jewish resident of Israel, righteous gentiles, and the commandments incumbent upon them.
Allahu Akbar. You hear it everywhere these days.
Special agent Scott Wickland said that he heard cries of “Allahu Akbar” before the Benghazi attack. And then the guards ran for their guns.
In Nice, France, the Islamic terrorist who killed 86 people and wounded over 400 by running them over with a truck, shouted, “Allahu Akbar”. In New York, the Islamic terrorist who was trying to imitate him, also shouted, “Allahu Akbar.” The 9/11 hijackers had the same message, “Allahu Akbar”.
With so many investigations and promised indictments, why is the prime minister’s popularity still so high? Part of it is certainly the convoluted nature of the allegations. The more closely one examines them, the more unbelievable they become.For all the differences between Israeli and American Jews, one thing is uncannily similar: the daily headlines lambasting their current political leader.
Normally, we’re allowed to discuss everything, even the salaries of senior judges and police officers. And if we want, we can even demand a pay raise for the prime minister.
There’s no taboo. Everything can and should be on the table. Even a law granting the prime minister immunity from police investigations, in a slightly more reasonable version, is an appropriate subject for a public debate.
But these are not normal times. We are in the midst of a dangerous campaign against the heads of the law enforcement system. They are not immune to criticism. But in the past few months, something completely different has been happening. of the campaign.
There has always been a debate about the “loyalty” of Israeli Arabs. Meaning, of course, Palestinians who are citizens of Israel, apart from those living in the West Bank/Judea-Samaria.
Now, a new poll bolsters the argument that these Palestinians are a sort of Fifth Column within the Jewish state.
Not loyal at all.
According to a report in the Times of Israel:
“Two-thirds of Arab Israelis believe Israel has ‘no right’ to define itself as the Jewish nation state, while a majority of Jewish Israelis (58 percent) say those who reject that definition of Israel should have their citizenship revoked, according to a new poll underlining deep divisions between the two communities.
A report on Channel 10—a known stronghold of Bibi-animosity—claims that
senior law enforcement officials have concluded there is sufficient evidence to file an indictment against [Prime Minister Netanyahu] on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust…. The report quoted an unofficial police opinion according to which the evidence that has accumulated against Netanyahu is robust…. The State Attorney’s Office, Channel 10 reported, was also coming to the opinion that there are grounds to file an indictment on bribery, but was not as sure as the police.
Most of the latest purported information—once again leaked by the police, guardians of virtue in the Bibi-hunt who have leaked ruthlessly and systematically throughout this affair—concerns Case 1000, in which Netanyahu is alleged to have done favors for his longtime friend, businessman and movie mogul Arnon Milchan, in return for gifts of cigars and champagne.